Teen’s Death Sparks Facebook War

Dylan RedwineDylan Redwine, 13, is one of the most popular kids on Facebook. Tragically, he reached that status after his death. Some of his bones were found this summer on a woodsy hill a mile from his divorced dad’s Colorado home. Dylan vanished during a court-ordered Thanksgiving visit last year with pop Mark Redwine, whose house near Vallecito Lake was searched by police for the third time last week.
Dylan last texted friends the night before he was reported missing. “I do believe Mark had something to do with Dylan’s disappearance,” the teen’s anguished mom, Elaine Redwine, said on a grueling Dr. Phil episode featuring the warring couple before Dylan’s remains were found. Mark Redwine told police he noticed Dylan was gone when he returned from errands the day after the teen arrived. He speculated on TV that his ex-wife, who lives six hours away near Colorado Springs, was linked to Dylan’s disappearance — a theory Dr. Phil didn’t seem to buy.

The Summer of Killer Dads

(Reprinted in the Huffington Post)

Brody Cramer's body was found in a Montana field. "I killed my son, and I don't even know why," Bordy's dad, Jeremy Cramer, told his own father in a phone conversation, according to a police affidavit.

Brody Cramer’s body was found in a Montana field. “I killed my son, and I don’t even know why,” Brody’s dad, Jeremy Cramer, told his own father in a phone conversation recorded by police.

Unemployed Washington dad Jeremy Cramer hoped to take a road trip east for summer vacation, but his wife said the family couldn’t afford it. So Cramer, apparently in a snit, climbed into his pickup truck early this month with his 3-year-old son, Brody, and drove off. Later that night, after his worried wife contacted cops when she couldn’t reach him, Cramer was discovered at the sink of a Montana gas station bathroom trying to wash off a “substantial amount of blood,” according to a police report. Cops located Cramer’s abandoned truck miles away with an empty child seat inside.

“We need to find” Brody, Cramer’s dad told him in a recorded phone conversation at the Anaconda-Deer Lodge County police station where Cramer was taken. “Brody’s dead, Dad. Brody’s dead… I killed my own kid and I don’t know why,” Cramer responded, according to a transcript of the call in a police affidavit. Investigators soon discovered Brody’s broken body in a field near Cramer’s truck. He died from blunt and sharp force trauma. Detectives recovered a bloody pocketknife from Cramer, along with a second knife and two rocks on the killing field speckled with Brody’s blood and blond hair, according to police

No murder is more stupefying than the killing of a child by his own parent. Cramer’s friends and family were stunned by the death of a son the father considered his best friend. Brody’s death is horrifying, but what’s even more incomprehensible is that the boy was one of at least 40 children likely killed by their fathers in an 82-day period in the U.S. beginning May 1, according to news accounts and substantiated by police and prosecutor records. Twenty-seven of the dads were arrested or sought in the deaths. Ten other fathers couldn’t be charged because nine committed suicide after killing their kids, and one was fatally shot by cops. In the same time frame, an additional 30 fathers were charged, sentenced or convicted (or convictions were upheld) in the earlier deaths of 33 children.

Peaceful Paris

I’m back in Paris after living here for six years, sitting on a bench (appropriately as it turns out, in a cemetery) watching Parisians walk by, and suddenly wondering, because ofimages-2 the odd bent of my interests, why the French are so much less violent than Americans (clearly not true during the French Revolution). You can’t say it’s an ethnic difference because the only ethnic Yanks are native Americans, and their small numbers don’t make a dent in US crime stats. Is the size of a nation key? Does being one of 315 million necessarily make us more aggressive than being one of the 65 million in France? Do we have to scream and shout and shove and punch (and shoot) to be heard among the American hordes? So why isn’t China the most violent of all? The intentional homicide rate among China’s  1.3 billion is a fraction of the US rate. China had a murder rate of 1.0 per 100,000 people  compared with 0.7 in Switzerland, 1.1 in France and 5.0 in the US, according to the most recent comprehensive statists in 2009 outlined in a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which tracks global crime rates. 

Strange Interlude With a Convict


 convictinterlude     I’ve been having an intense phone relationship with J, a man I met on the Internet. “He’s the nicest guy,” I tell my husband, Roland. “Probably not the nicest,” my husband responds testily. That’s Roland’s attitude because he knows what J did.  He fatally slashed his five-year-old stepdaughter during a family vacation in the midst of a vicious argument with his wife. I found Roland, sobbing, as he read a transcript of a 911 call I had given him that was made by J’s wife as she struggled desperately to save her child’s life.  J is one of the murderers I focus on in my true crime book, Killer Dads: The Twisted Drives That Compel Fathers to Murder Their Own Kids. After all the gut-wrenching tales of largely inexplicable murders and searing family pain, it’s weirdly J whom I can’t get out of my head. He’s a friendly, funny, articulate, apparently compassionate murderer who still seems stunned by what happened, and he’s locked up for 55 years. My neighbor compares him to Joseph Goebbels because she thinks J has completely snowed me. But he has confessed, makes no excuses, and wishes desperately he could make it not be so. “If I could go back in time and trade my life for my stepdaughter’s, I would,” he tells me in one of our many phone conversations. “But I can’t.”

What Do You Do When Cops Stop Searching for Your Daughter?

susankids1  Chuck Cox is a dad who will never give up. The retired FAA investigator from Washington is taking over the hunt for his missing daughter now that Utah police have officially closed the investigation into the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell.  Susan’s friends have launched their own support team and are appealing to the public to help in an all-out search for Susan, presumed murdered by the husband who later blew up himself along with the couple’s two young sons. Armed with encyclopedic files released last month by police as they closed the case, Cox, Susan’s sister Denise Cox Olsen and a private investigator drove along a 500-mile stretch of I-84 from Oregon to Utah, handing out flyers, talking to gas station attendants, and quizzing waitresses at roadside diners, and they plan to do it again. The flyers feature photos of husband Josh Powell, his brother Michael (a possible accomplice, who also committed suicide) and the two cars the brothers were driving shortly after Susan vanished from her home in West Valley, Utah, in 2009. The problem is that Susan’s body could be just about anywhere.

Journey into Darkness

-1No crime is as horrific or as confounding as a child’s murder at the hands of a parent. It’s an endlessly repeated tragedy in the US that has captivated me throughout my years as a journalist working at the New York Daily News, the New York Post, Salon, AP and Link TV.  I’ve delved into cases of fathers who killed their sons and daughters in a white rage or out of a twisted sense of love. I spent weeks talking to one of the murderers, and passed a restless night in a  hotel room where New Yorker William Parente, described by a friend as “straight as an arrow,” bludgeoned and suffocated his family  before cutting his own throat. I pored over an emailed journal of  increasingly frightened young mom Susan Cox Powell, whose husband, Josh, blew up himself and their two young sons in his home in Washington. I talked to experts who explained their theories about why it happens, and what can be done about it. What I found is in my book Killer Dads: The Twisted Drives that Compel Fathers to Murder Their Own Kids. It’s available here on Amazon.